In this informal episode of Coffee Break Blogging – and the first episode in some 6 months – I cover the question of…
This episode is primarily an internal look at the Blog Marketing Academy itself, this podcast, and some general news. I discuss:
- Why the podcast was originally discontinued
- Why I’m bring it back now
- What I’ve been working on behind the scenes
Hello, hello!!! Welcome back to Coffee Break Blogging Episode 156! This is actually the first episode of 2017; also happens to be the first episode in about 6 months! And so, this is the return of the podcast!
So here is what we are going to be doing today, because it has probably been a while since you heard from me unless you are in the Lab or you have been following the blog. This is going to be kind of an informal episode where I just kind of explain what has been going on in the last 6 months. There are no really deep, big stories to it, but I think I do need to explain why the podcast disappeared, why we are bringing it back now and what the general plan is, here.
So first of all…
Why did the podcast disappear?
Well, we were going for 2 episodes a week and it was moving along fairly well, but here is what happened…
At the end of the day, I run my business as a vehicle for my life. It is a lifestyle-design type of thing. For those of you who have been following me for a while, you know that I do a lot of time going camping, I go out in the RV; that we went out this summer for about 5 weeks, we all went up into Canada and everything and traveled around… And we all had a good time. But basically, around all that, I started questioning everything that I was doing in the business. Not the business itself, because I absolutely love what I do, but I like to keep things simple. I like to not do things that I don’t think are necessary.
And one of the things, especially when I want to spend a lot of time out and about in the RV is that the podcast can be a little bit of a drag; especially you are doing 2 episodes per week. Could I have done that while I am out in the RV, could I have podcasted from there? Yes… I mean, I have my laptop and the whole thing… I could have done it. It would have sounded kind of crappy because I don’t have my podcast set up with me, but I could have done it. But the other thing is… Did I want to? The answer was certainly no, I didn’t.
And so, I went to this phase where I was simplifying the business and I simplified other things, too. I made a change in my email list host; I moved over to Drip Email Marketing from Ontraport, really, really happy with that change. I cut off a lot of fat, a lot of pieces of the business. And basically, what I was trying to do is create a lean, mean machine that I can run the business the way that I want on my terms and be anywhere that I want and not have any undue pressure on myself. And that was the way that the podcast got cut.
And here is the thing too… on top of all this, I did not really think that the podcast was ultimately adding a whole lot to the business. And come to find out, I think I might have been wrong about that; and I’ll get to that in just a minute, but I have various tracking links in place like any good marketer in order to try to determine what kind of marketing impact the podcast was having. And when I went and look at those reports, it did not seem as if the 2 episodes per week podcast that I was running was really adding all that much to the bottom line. I mean, that is the honest truth. And so, when I looked at that and then I combined that with my desire to simplify the business, to be able to operate it on my schedule without those types of patterned, like “have to dos” every single list a week, I should say, the podcast got cut. And that is essentially what happened.
Now, here we are in 2017…
Why am I here?
Certainly, the Blog Marketing Academy hasn’t gone anywhere. I have been quite busy in fact. I just wasn’t podcasting. So, why am I podcasting now? Well, let’s go back to what I just told you about the tracking that I was doing…
As it turned out, there are things that were happening because of the podcast, in my business that I couldn’t quantify. And a lot of that is because the way podcast work.
I can give a call to action in a podcast and I could run that through a tracking link, but many times people are not going to go to that exact URL unless it is something that they have never heard of before. What I came to find out; also by listening to people inside the Lab was that I have more members than I thought who had joined the Lab because they got to know me via this very podcast. And yet, my numbers were not really showing that fact. And so, what it came down to; and it might have been just some sloppiness in my part, very well might have been… 😉 But what it came down to is that the podcast was having a bigger impact than I thought it was having and the other thing is that I think the podcast; since it is probably the nature of the platform has a bigger impact than people can measure because it is a very indirect thing. I mean, when you have somebody sitting inside your ear buds for a certain amount of time and you are listening to their voice, you get to know that person. And whether you take action on something that they are doing right then or whether you do it in one or two or three months or longer, you will never really know when that conversion might take place.
In my business, I am ultimately looking to get members into the Blog Monetization Lab because that is where I can work with people to enable their transformation in this business and of course that is what ultimately raises my revenue, which is something I am looking to do, obviously. And it basically, just came down to the fact that there was this grey area, there was this fuzzy factor that the podcast was having this impact and I didn’t really see it. I didn’t quantify it. I was getting told stories inside the Lab Group about how they found me on the podcast. I did a consultation with a lady who joined the Lab and wanted some more one-on-one help since the Lab members have the ability to book that call with me and we did; and she told me that she absolutely love the podcast and I was like, “Wow, this is really cool!” I told her “What if I brought that back?” and she was completely and totally thrilled! Now it was more than one lady, but I had that feedback from many different people and then it just got to a point where like “Okay, I think I got to do this.” And that brings us to the day! Here we are and the podcast is back!
Here’s what’s going to be different about the podcast…
My original lifestyle design reasons for turning the podcast off have not gone anywhere. Right now, I don’t have any big travel plans, but come this summer I most likely will. There might be some other things going on with my kids’ schooling that might enable us to do even more and you know…
Basically, this is a business that I run for the purposes of helping other people but ultimately for me; it is for lifestyle designed purposes. And if I have to force myself to be in this beautiful campground, out in Maine or something like that and I had to record a podcast and dealing with the noise of my kids and… I just don’t want to do all that! And so, I am going to continue this podcast, but I am going to reduce the frequency… instead of it being twice a week, we going to drop this thing down to once a week. I think it will be completely and totally fine that way. It is going to continue to be primarily be just “me”, because there are just so many interview style podcast out there that I look at what I do here something a little bit different. You know, this podcast tend to be very instructional; they tend to be very meaty. It is not the kind of podcast where I like to just go off and have a bunch of fluff. And it is going to continue to do that, but we are going to drop it to once a week; something that I can hopefully keep up with or if I see my travel schedule jumping up, I can plan ahead and get a bunch of those episodes in the can, for my trip. The other thing, too, is that I am just going to loosen up my standards if I absolutely have to and if I need to record a podcast on the road, you guys can go with me; I’ll use my headset mic, it will still sound okay, it just will be a little bit different.
So that is our plan for Coffee Break Blogging. Let me also talk a little bit about some upcoming plans here for 2017 because we have got a lot going on here, alright?
Some of the training that’s gonna be coming in to the Lab this year…
I have got the whole thing planned out through the entire year right now. Let me give you some kind of a breakdown on what’s coming up here…
We are going to have a course on crafting your Content Marketing Calendar and another one, finally; because a lot of people have been asking for it, the Facebook Ads Blueprint. It is going to be my training on how to do Facebook Ads. Now, on that one it is going to be interesting, because as I have been very open with my Lab Members, I know how to do Facebook Ads, but I do not put myself in the “Expert Camp”. I mean, there are people out there who do Facebook Ads, they live, eat and breathe the damn things and they are going to be a lot better at it than I am, but one of the things that I bring to the table when I do a lot of my teaching, aside from my experience doing this stuff is that I know how to boil down more complicated things into simple step by step type of thing.
And so, that is what I am going to bring to this topic; The Facebook Ads Blueprint. And of course, that is something that will be probably updated over time as new information comes along. You know, Facebook changes things constantly anyway, right?
Now after that, we are going to do an update to the Blog Post Traffic Plan; that is an Action Plan that is inside the Lab right now and it is going to get a full update because it definitely needs it. We are going to do another course on Blog SEO; it is going to be WordPress Blog SEO Checklist, so that is going to be a point by point “Here is how to set up your blog for decent SEO” and then “How to set up your content for decent SEO”. But I am going to keep SEO in perspective because some people just take their concerns about SEO way too far. I am going to just lay out the simplicity of it and let people go from there.
The next one is going to be Crafting An Offer That Converts, where it’s all just going to be talking about how to put an offer on the table and sell it. The next one is going to be Blog Posts That Convert. That is how to create actual content marketing; how do you write blog posts that will fill your sales funnel. That is what we are going to be talking about there. After that we are going to do one called The Email Newsletter Blueprint. Now, inside the Lab, currently, I have an Action Plan on what I call “The Email Follow-up Engine“; that is essentially a training about autoresponders, automated email marketing. But all of us have emails that we send to our list that are not automated. We do broadcasts as well. And so, this training, The Email Newsletter Blueprint is going to be how to actually do the broadcast portion of your email marketing and some strategies that you can use to keep the funnel going.
After that, we are going into one called The Business Debug. This is going to be a little different than some of the other stuff because it is going to be primarily to people in the Lab who have businesses that are already generating some revenue, but it might not be a lot of revenue and that is really the point because we are going to take an existing business and we are going to do a point by point investigation and analysis on why is the business not performing up to the standards that you want. And we have all experienced that. I have certainly experienced it, where my business is going fine but there have been those periods in my past where I’m like… “You know I shouldn’t be complaining here, but I wish this business was doing better.” And that is some of the stuff that we are going to bring into The Business Debug, it is going to be more of an executive level thing.
Right after that, we are going to kind of continue the theme with something called The Online Business Executive Plan. This is going to be an executive look at the structure of an online business and some things about running it. This is going to be different, but it is not going to be real tactical in terms of “Here’s how to get more sales, blah-blah-blah” this is going to be more of a bird’s eye view of the whole thing. After that, we are going to do a course called The Blog Retargeting Plan, which is how to set up retargeting funnels based on your blog and have the whole thing work out as a nice cohesive piece; it is really, really cool stuff. After that The Social Media Marketing Plan, after that The 90-Day Business Start Up Plan, which is basically going to be an update of the current “Business Building Bootcamp“… After that – Conversion Tweaks; this is going to be a course simply on going through an existing funnel and tweaking certain things, moving the levers around so that we can get more results out of it. And then lastly is The Blog Launch Plan, which is how to go from idea to launching your blog from scratch.
So that is the general, very informal breakdown of kind of what I have on the 2017 agenda.
Now, another thing that I am going to be adding to the Lab for 2017 are what I call “Blueprints”. Now, the Blueprints are going to be a new effort; it is basically going to be a library of downloadable and printable checklists that guide people toward certain outcomes that they want in their business. The idea behind this is that I have found in my own business life; and you probably found the same thing, that very often when you have that feeling like you don’t really want to work… or you know, you are kind of like screwing around Facebook or something and you know you should be doing something more useful…
Usually, when I have that happen with me and I analyze it, I realize that really what the problem was it is not that I am being lazy. It is that I have some confusion on what I should be doing right then and there. And so, from that realization from myself, I came up with the idea for the Blueprints. The Blueprints are going to be something where the blueprint will be focused on a particular project. That project could be “I’m going to launch a new blog… I’m going to set up a new funnel… I’m going to double my conversion rate… I’m going to create a lead magnet” and you would literally download for that specific outcome, print it and go through it. It is simply going to be an action checklist along with some guidance as to when you should be doing it; not only in what order, but also when. And so, you could look, at say… a blog launch plan and go “Well, by day 7, I should have this, this and this done.” And you will be able to fill in your own personal deadlines on these things, but the idea here is that if we don’t schedule the action to make it something happen and say when we are going to get it done by, it probably will not happen. And so these Blueprints are going to be a productivity tool for the Lab Members to get more things done. I am really looking forward to this one because I think it is something that is much needed.
Design Changes To The Lab
One last thing I want to mention here is some of design changes; which by the time this episode hits the feed for the podcast, these changes should be live.
The Blog Marketing Academy is going to be getting a pretty radical re-design. Now, it is not going to be like “Holy crap! I’ve never seen anything like this before!” because I like to keep the Blog Marketing Academy site pretty simple, actually. And one of the things that I am going to be doing is simplifying it even more. So it isn’t as if you are going to find big, flashy graphics; in fact, it is going to go the other direction. We are going to many different simplifications.
The Blog, I am highly considering; and it is probably going to be official, is we are going to get rid of the sidebar completely, on the Blog Marketing Academy Blog. That is something of a bit of a radical move, but I think this is where the trend is going. And not only that, I think it will be an interesting test, but I think that I can actually get more marketing or conversion impact with a piece of content by simply focusing people on the content and having calls to action within that content than putting a lot of distractions around it with the sidebar because most of us probably don’t pay a whole lot of attention to blog sidebars, anyway.
Another thing that we are going to be doing inside the Lab is combining all the Action Plans and the Courses together into one Training Library. There’s no longer going to be that delineation, we are not even going to be calling these things Action Plans, necessarily; I might change my mind on that, but that collapsible format that we have had inside the Lab for a while is going to be going away. It is going to go to more of a traditional format. One of the reasons for that is just simply ease of use on multiple devices because that collapsible format got to be a little unwieldy on the front end and it was definitely unwieldy on the backend as managing that thing. So the new system is just going to be just a lot cleaner.
We are going to be also reducing plug-in load; there’s a lot infrastructure changes going on behind the scenes in terms of the presentation of transcripts and downloads, it is going to be a lot more patterned so that it will always look the same. We are getting rid of WP CourseWare; we are going to be getting rid of the Action Plan System… We are making many changes that you are probably not going to notice from the front end just to reduce the overall footprint of the site in order to speed it up and make things easier to manage from our perspective.
Another thing is that Lab Members are now going to have their own Push Notification System so that whenever there is some update for Lab Members, specifically, I can send that Push Notification specifically to Lab Members and not to everybody else. Another thing is that you are going to be able to see Training Only agenda before it actually is released. So, we have got a lot coming up for 2017. You are going to be able to see the listing for the next course and it will say “Coming soon” on it and you will always going to kind of know what is coming up there, whereas in the old system, we really didn’t have that ability without some real geekery.
And that is one of the reasons why I am making some of these changes because it got to a point that the old system was so customized that I was the only one that could add new capabilities to it. And one of the things that I really like to do in order to simplify my business is use third party tools. You know, I know how to program stuff in PHP; I mean, I can hack this stuff up like crazy, but I don’t want to in some cases because it means that when I want to add new capability to the site, it is just that much more difficult to do. That is one of the reasons why we are actually switching away from the Genesis Framework and going to another theme and there’s a lot happening there to simplify things.
So, all of these come together into a renewed focus for 2017. It is going to be a lot more focus on the Lab. Not that there was not a lot of focus in 2016, but it is really going to hit another level in 2017, but we are starting out the year here making some pretty fundamental changes to the backend part of the Lab so that all that content that I told you about is going to be easier to produce and there won’t be so many weird pieces that we got to deal with behind the scenes, and it is just going to be good for everybody all around. And on top of all that… Yes! We are bringing the podcast back and it should be a lot of fun!
So, with all that said and done, you now have some idea as to why the podcast disappeared, why we are bringing it back now and some of what is coming up for the new year with the Blog Monetization Lab.
If you like to have more information of the Lab; if you are not already a member yet, head on over to blogmarketingacademy.com/lab. By the way this episode pops out, we probably got a whole new page there that describes the Lab and that takes into account the changes that we have got and if you haven’t been there in a while, head on over there, okay? 😉
With all that said and done, I’m going to stop talking now, I will see you next time on Episode 157 of Coffee Break where we are going to start jumping right in to the instructional content yet again. Talk to you soon!
We’ll get this thing into a new, normal schedule! 😉